John Cleese dubbed genius for picking apart ‘extremists’ amid Fawlty Towers row | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV
John has found himself an unlikely centre of attention in recent days after an episode of Fawlty Towers – called The Germans – was taken off the BBC-owned UKTV streaming service for containing racial slurs. It came after the withdrawal of Little Britain and Come Fly with Me from BBC iPlayer and Netflix as the nation grapples with what is culturally appropriate in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. The 80-year-old, who cemented himself as a British comedy icon with his Basil Fawlty character after being an integral part of Monty Python’s success, hit out at the “stupid” decision.
And last night, he appeared to go further still as he shared archive footage of himself picking apart extremism on Twitter, alongside the caption: “Hard to tell if I recorded this 30 years ago or 10 minutes ago.”
In the 1987 footage, a young John says: “Seriously though, we’ve heard a lot about extremism recently – a nastier, harsher atmosphere everywhere, more abuse and bother boy behaviour and less friendliness, tolerance and respect for opponents.
“Alright but what we never hear about extremism is its advantages.
“Well, the biggest advantage of extremism is that it makes you feel good because it provides you with enemies.
“Let me explain, the great thing about having enemies is that you can pretend all the badness in the whole world is in your enemies and all the goodness in the whole world is in you.
“Attractive isn’t it?”
In the clip, viewed almost four million times in under 24 hours, John then explains how extremists try to justify abuse, anger and resentment.
READ MORE: How John Cleese suffered brutal BBC snub to Fawlty Towers
“Now you have a choice.
“If you join the hard left they’ll give you their list of authorised enemies: almost all kinds of authority, especially the police, the City, Americans, judges, multinational corporations, public schools, newspaper owners, fox-hunters, generals, class traitors and, of course, moderates.
“Or if you’d rather be an extremist on the hard right, no problem you’ll still get a lovely list of enemies only they’re different ones: noisy minority groups, unions, Russia, weirdos, demonstrators, welfare spongers, meddlesome clergy, peaceniks, the BBC, strikers, social workers, communists and, of course, moderates.
“Now, once you’re armed with a super list of enemies, you can be as nasty as you like and yet feel your behaviour is morally justified.
“So, you can strut around abusing people and telling them you could eat them for breakfast and still think of yourself as a ‘champion of the truth’ – a fighter for the greater good, not the rather sad, paranoid schizoid that you really are.”
John’s critique was met with widespread praise, too.
Fellow actor and comedian Stephen Fry commented: “If I didn’t already think you were a genius, I would now.”
Another urged: “Record a new one please with the identical script.”
A third went further still, writing: “Absolutely brilliant. Nicola Sturgeon should watch it over breakfast, every day of the week.”
Since John shared the clip, UKTV confirmed the Fawlty Towers episode will return to the platform in the coming days.
It will now have “extra guidance and warnings to highlight potentially offensive content and language”.